Taxation
Shah panel on MAT levy on FIIs holds first meeting
The Justice A.P. Shah-led three-member committee on direct tax matters held its first meeting on Monday on the applicability of the controversial minimum alternate tax (MAT) on Foreign Institutional Investors (FIIs) for previous years.
 
An official source told IANS on late Monday evening that the three-member panel met to discuss on its terms of reference and the methodology it is going to adopt for considering the contentious tax issue.
 
The panel, headed by Law Commission chairman Shah, was formally set up last week with former chief economic advisor Ashok Lahiri and noted chartered accountant Girish Ahuja as the other members.
 
The finance ministry in a statement on Wednesday said other tax issues would be referred to the Shah committee in due course.
 
The Income Tax department had sent notices to 68 FIIs demanding Rs 602.83 crore as MAT dues of previous years, with FIIs, in turn, moving the higher court challenging the demand.
 
The Shah committee will examine MAT notices for the period before April 1, 2015, and has been requested to "give its recommendations expeditiously".
 
Finance Minister Arun Jaitley in the Budget 2015-16 had exempted FIIs from paying MAT with effect from April.
 
The Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT) earlier this month said it will not issue any new demands for payments, and will take no coercive action to pursue claims that have already been filed under the controversial MAT.
 
Even after Jaitley's announcement exempting FIIs from paying MAT on capital gains earned by them, the income tax department sent notice to at least 90 foreign portfolio investors.
 
With the uncertainty created by MAT, foreign investors sold around $630 million in Indian shares and bonds on May 6, marking the biggest single-day sales since January 2014.

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Public Interest Exclusive
Is Modi following BJP’s pre-election Vision Document 2020

Or is it lost in the flurry of socialist schemes?

 

At the end of one year in office, public opinion remains strongly in support of prime minister Narendra Modi. It is universally acknowledged that the days of rampant, monumental, high-level corruption are over and that his foreign engagements have been an impressive image boost for the nation. The average Indian, especially BJP supporters, will aggressively assert that it takes time to clean up the mess inherited after a decade of the United Progressive Alliance (UPA). And, when industry captains complain about the lack of access to Union ministers, they get no public sympathy. There is good reason for this.
 
Under the UPA, crony capitalism had reached a stage where industrialists were inside parliament as ‘honourable’ members, shaping policy to facilitate large-scale loot of India’s resources. Open plunder took place in land dealings (remember Singur and the special economic zones), telecom (2G spectrum scandal), allocation of coal mines, iron ore, irrigation, aviation, power and infrastructure. The net worth of many industrialists shot up in direct proportion to the increase in bad loans of public sector banks that financed this loot. 
 
Significantly, most of the blue-chip names of Indian business were involved in these shenanigans; but only a few will face the consequences. The National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government has the dirty job of cleaning up the mess. The public knows this; which is why Mr Modi’s clearly articulated vision for India persuaded many to give him the best ever electoral mandate in 30 years. 
 
But a year later, some BJP senior leaders are also worried with the pace and direction of change. Writing in The Hindu, Dr Subramanian Swamy, an economist who taught at Harvard, says that instead of heading for GDP growth of 10%+, ‘regressive markers’ are rearing their head. Among others, he flags the recapitalisation of public sector banks (PSBs), which is going to need Rs1,21,000 crore in this financial year against a provision of Rs11,200 crore in the Union Budget. If the rest were to be raised through public sector disinvestment, the government has done a great job or frightening away foreign investment with the threat of continued ‘taxtortion’. Reform, and even top appointments, at PSBs have yet to begin.
 
Importantly, Dr Swamy reveals that a blueprint for recovery called the ‘Vision Document 2020’ was prepared for the prime minister under the leadership of Nitin Gadkari which has not been implemented. 
 
Dr Swamy does not disclose what Vision Document 2020 was; but he flags key issues that need to be addressed: low-yield, one-crop agriculture employing 62% of the labour force; flawed education system; poor infrastructure; and massive poverty. 
 
What is perplexing is that the government is more focused on social welfare schemes which are necessary but could easily have been put off for a year or two while working to get the economy back on the high growth path. It is also disappointing that a government that promised ‘maximum governance’ seems to have no interest in appointing a central information commissioner under the Right to Information Act. 
 
And, yet, all things considered, if one were asked whether Modi Sarkar is an improvement on the deadening UPA decade, the answer would be a resounding ‘Yes’. Will Mr Modi realise that better economic performance, job creation and agricultural growth must come first?

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COMMENTS

Santosh Gupta

2 years ago

Instead of tightening avoidable expenditure, NDA is following the footsteps of UPA: Enhance Tax rate to increase income. This leads to vicious circle on higher inflation and again shortfall in govt needs.

Instead, as proposed by Arthkranti, eliminate all form of taxation except transaction tax and de-notification of Rs 500 & 1000 notes. most of the balck money will become useless.

But Politicians & Babus....... will they let this happen.

LALIT SHAH

2 years ago

Abhi to 18 country hi ghuma hun baki 4 saal me ek bhi country nahi chhodunga
Bakki public co Dharm ke naam ULLOO bannan ashan hey

Dayananda Kamath k

2 years ago

the pre-election vision was proactive.but opposition succeeded in making their policies reactive. so there is every chance they will loose the vision and become an upa 3. the govt before bringing out their policies should have thought about the reactions of opposition and how to tackle it. in the uforia of majority in lokasabha. they forgot their position in rajya sabha which led them to the present situation. they are not creating the public opinion against the game plan of opposition. which may lead to policy paralysis of a different kind.

JAYENDRA PANDYA

2 years ago

Will Mr Modi realise that better economic performance, job creation and agricultural growth must come first?
Only time will tell. But one has to acknowledge the efforts of the present Govt. Indeed it is their achievement that they have transparently worked so far and tried to plug and recover what was lost under UPA regime. This Govt. realizes what is in India's interest and are steadfast in their stand. They are not bowing down under pressure of foreign countries.
Message is clear. To protect the India's interest at all cost...
Dr Swamy is veteran and he ought to know that it requires some more years before we see the results. Unfortunately, the Govt. is trying their best to pass maximum bills in Parliament and also attempting to enter into bilateral pacts with neighbouring countries...
Let us all give them support, co-operation and time to prove themselves

Promoting Politicians with Public Funded Advertisements
Supreme Court calls a halt to this obnoxious practice
 
Our slow and creaky judicial system can sometimes create ironical situations. It was 12 years ago that a publicity blitzkrieg unleashed by the BJP-led, NDA government agitated the Common Cause, a consumer organisation. It filed a public interest litigation against the misuse of public funds for government advertisements designed to promote politicians in power. And, it is another NDA government that will have to implement the Supreme Court’s landmark judgement laying down guidelines for publicly-funded government advertisements. 
 
A bench of Justices Ranjan Gogoi and PC Ghosh has prohibited the use of photographs of ministers and other political leaders in government advertisements, with the exception of the president, prime minister and chief justice of the Supreme Court (SC). More importantly, the Court has said that a three-member ombudsman will oversee the release of government advertisements. Common Cause, the petitioner, believes that, over time, this ombudsman could emerge as an independent institution like the election commission and bring accountability in spending of taxpayers’ money. 
 
This judgement, based on the recommendations of a three-member committee appointed by the SC in April 2014, has put state and Central ministries that splurge public funds to promote ministers in a fix. It also affects media houses that survive on political patronage. The apex court specifically noted the “power of the purse that government advertisements invariably involve” and said that “concepts of fairness and even dispensation to all media/publishing houses will have to be maintained by the Government be it at the Centre or the States.”
 
The gravy-train of government advertisements is mammoth. The department of advertising & visual publicity alone issued advertisements worth around Rs2,000 crore in 2014. These do not include tender advertisements or different kinds of results, or those of state governments and public sector undertakings and government institutions. The judgement eliminates the government’s power to bestow its largesse on favoured media houses; it will now have to follow rules and guidelines framed by a three-member ombudsman. For the first time, those aggrieved at how the advertising pie is divvied will now have a forum to file complaints. This, in itself, will increase accountability and bring transparency to the use of public funds.

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COMMENTS

Subramani P K

2 years ago

The judgement is welcome. There should be thorough check in the expenditure using public money. Similarly rules & regulations should be set for all expenditure like free bees, subsidies etc by government both at the centre & state.

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